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The Leader Of A Militia Group Unlawfully Detaining Migrant Families At Gunpoint Arrested For Felony Firearm Possession

Doña Ana County Jail

A right-wing militia group that has been illegally detaining groups of migrant families in southern New Mexico is without a leader today. Militia groups rallying against undocumented immigrants is nothing new. However, the group, which calls itself the United Constitutional Patriots, posted videos on social media of them detaining a group of about 200 migrants. Now, the leader of the group, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, is behind bars, not for detaining people, but for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

A 41-minute video shows large groups of migrant asylum seekers being detained at gunpoint before U.S. Border Patrol agents arrive.

According to Buzzfeed News, the militia group known has posted videos from the border for the past few months. They’ve shared videos showing members detaining people in near the southern New Mexico border.

A video shows distraught migrants placed in giant groups seated on the ground at night. You can see the militia group ordering migrant families and children to sit down, calling border patrol agents on them.

After terrorizing migrant families, the ring leader for United Constitutional Patriots is behind bars, but not for kidnapping.

Credit: Doña Ana County Jail

According to the Doña Ana County Jail website, Hopkins was arrested by the FBI for possession of firearms and ammunition as a felon. Hopkins, who was arrested over the weekend, faced his first day in court Monday.

According to The New York Times, the FBI was made aware in October 2017 of the “alleged militia extremist activity” of a group in New Mexico. The arrest was prompted after the groups posted several videos of their mass citizen arrests.

The group, mainly consisting of veterans, has been patrolling the southern New Mexico border since February.

A statement on the United Constitutional Patriots’ Facebook page describes the militia group as “Americans that believe in the constitution and the rights of every American that will stand up for there rights in unity and help keep America safe.”

“We’re just here to support the Border Patrol and show the public the reality of the border,” Jim Benvie, a spokesman for the group told The New York Times. He compared the group’s detention of the migrants to “a verbal citizen’s arrest.”

Benvie also says that members of the group offered $20 to any of the migrants who could identify the smuggler who helped them cross the border. But none of the migrants accepted the offer.

Social media is buzzing with the truth beneath the ambiguous language in the news.

Credit: @dcbigjohn / Twitter

Immigration advocates are concerned that Hopkins and his gang might have broken international kidnapping laws. A lot of officials have an issue with the timing of Hopkins’ arrest. According to The New York Times, the guns were found at Hopkins’ residence in 2017. Some reports claim prominent Democratic officials pressured the FBI to act on the arrestable offenses they of which they already had evidence.

The ACLU doesn’t agree with the militia group and will be seeking legal action.

“We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” the ACLU said in a letter to state authorities denouncing the group’ actions. “We urge you to immediately investigate this atrocious and unlawful conduct.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham responded to the news of the immigrant groups being unlawfully detained. He says the actions of the group are “unacceptable.”

“That migrant families might be menaced or threatened in any way, shape or form when they arrive at our border — often times after an unimaginably arduous journey — is completely unacceptable,” Grisham told NBC News. “It should go without saying that regular citizens have no authority to arrest or detain anyone.”

Ursela Ojeda, a policy adviser in Washington for the Women’s Refugee Commission, told the New York Times the militia’s motives are questionable.

“These are families, and lots of young children, fleeing dangerous situations,” Ojeda said. “I have a hard time seeing how someone has a right to point a loaded weapon at these families.”

READ: Yo-Yo Ma Sends Message Of Unity By Playing Cello On Both Sides Of US-Mexico Border

Migrants Are Being Detained Indefinitely By The Trump Administration. Here's How They're Getting The Word Out

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Migrants Are Being Detained Indefinitely By The Trump Administration. Here’s How They’re Getting The Word Out

Master Steve Rapport / Flickr

Detained undocumented people don’t have much of a say about their treatment under custody by the U.S. government. We are not talking about felons, murderers, rapists, or hard criminals; we’re talking about detained undocumented migrants seeking asylum. So what is left for them to do? How else can they get people’s attention about their situation? They’re taking desperate measures.

More undocumented detainees are going on hunger strikes to protest bail policies and unfair treatment in detention centers.

According to NPR, there have been six hunger strikes at detention centers this year and immigration advocates say it’s due to the changing policy. The Trump administration has changed the policy to allow holding detainees without bail.

Since last year, President Trump has been saying that detainees won’t be released and await trial. Bail has long been the standard policy called due process under the law. Instead, the Trump administration wants to hold migrants until their cases are settled.

“We’re going to catch, we’re not going to release,” he said during a news conference in November. “They’re going to stay with us until the deportation hearing or the asylum hearing takes place…And they await a lengthy court process. The court process will take years sometimes for them to attend. Well, we’re not releasing them into our country any longer. They’ll wait.”

Attorney General William Barr went further and said that in 90 days they will implement a new no bail policy, which will cause overcrowding at centers and also more hunger strikes. The American Civil Liberties Union is already planning on using the Administration.

Last week, 150 detainees went on a hunger strike in Louisiana.

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The Associated Press reports that detainees protested poor conditions and medical care in the detention center, others said they were frustrated that they were denied bond.

Officials there said only 24 detainees went on a hunger strike, but immigrant advocates say the number was actually 150.

“We have never seen so many hunger strikes in so many different places in less than three, four months,” Maru Mora Villalpando, an immigrants rights activist told NPR. “And the ones we have been able to engage with have been led by asylum-seekers.”

We shall see how many more detainees choose this route in the coming months.

READ: This Detention Center has Driven its Women to Go on a Hunger Strike

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